Students at Macon State College will soon have the opportunity to experience on-campus residential life for the first time since the school opened in 1968.
In the fall, Macon State will assume management duties of an apartment complex off Ivey Drive at the school’s main campus and offer students on-campus housing.
The move will benefit Macon State’s students, especially those who commute to the school from as far away as McDonough and Baldwin and Putnam counties, said John P. Cole, vice president for institutional advancement.
“The time has come. It’s one element Macon State College has not had that every other institute in the University System (of Georgia) has,” Cole said. “There seems to be enough demand on campus.”
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Another company, Allen & O’Hara, owns the buildings themselves and will assume renovation and refitting costs. Normal expenses associated with running the facilities will be maintained with student housing fees, Cole said.
The complex, formerly called Collegiate Village, will now be called College Station. The name was suggested by student Kamiron B. Smith in a naming contest, and is also the name of the school’s internal road. Officials asked students to suggest names as a way to keep them actively engaged in the process, Cole said.
The residential area has a capacity for 336 students. In all, there are 6,615 students enrolled at Macon State, Cole said.
Each residence will house four students. Each student will have his or her own bedroom and bathroom, and share a living room, kitchen, dining room, washing machine and dryer. Residents of College Station will have other amenities, such as a game room, a pool and gated parking.
Several new staff members have come on board to help run the program, including Chris Summerlin, director of residence life. Macon State officials have also hired Shawn Douglas as director of public safety and chief of police in addition to existing security staff.
While the student residences are new for Macon State, the leaders running the program bring in years of experience from other colleges, Cole said.
For instance, Summerlin has experience with student residence programs at Darton College and Shorter College. Douglas previously served as the police chief and public safety director at Gordon College.
Even so, Summerlin hopes to complement that experience with input from those that will be living in the residences.
“While it helps, I’m bringing a new outlook for the needs of the students at Macon State,” Summerlin said.
A residence life coordinator will assist Summerlin by supervising up to 14 student resident assistants.
Among those residents assistants, or RA’s, is junior J.P. Mitchell, a history major from Dublin. Mitchell transferred to Macon State after enrolling at Brewton-Parker College for a semester. Later, he moved in with his sister, who lives in Gray, and has been commuting to school.
A large living space and not having to worry about paying for utilities are among some of the features that Mitchell likes about moving to on-campus housing.
“A lot of kids want to move out of the house, away from Mom and Dad. This is a great start,” he said.
Through the summer, Mitchell said he will encourage more of his friends to consider moving to College Station.
“I’m excited. I’m helping the college grow and move into a traditional college. A lot of people haven’t seen it that way because there was no housing,” Mitchell said.
Offering Macon State students the opportunity to live on campus will benefit commuter students as well as the residents of the facilities by providing more student activities or keeping campus buildings such as the library open longer, Cole said.
“These things are not limited to residents. Commuters alike can benefit from more open access,” Cole said. “It’ll have a ripple effect through campus, new life after hours.”
Macon State may look at expanding on-campus housing options if students continue to ask for it, Cole said.
For now, there are 70 students who are registered to live in the residences in the fall, Summerlin said. Through the summer, school officials will focus on reaching out to more students that may be interested in the option.
“We’re prepared no matter how many students qualify for the program,” Summerlin said. “We’re about taking care of those who take the chance.”
Ultimately, the move is part of Macon State’s mission to improve the school as a whole, Cole said.
“We’re not just a stop along the way, we’re a destination. We wouldn’t be doing this without it being part of our mission,” Cole said. “We’re helping people in and out of central Georgia to learn, make central Georgia a better place. It’s not about enrollment; it’s about graduates.”
To contact Andrea Castillo, call 256-9751.